This post is one of two about our long awaited journey northward. I am writing it up posting when I have a connection. There will be more to follow:
Having travelled late night and slept, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day in the North. Sunshine and Warmth, two of my favourite things. It was hard driving along the motorway, our first trip towards the hill without our little bear. I’d become very distressed at the thought of leaving him behind and we had decided to take him. His casket, safely wrapped in his bedtime blanket in a holdall in the back of the car. His rightful place as we travelled north. I just wasn’t ready to do this trip without him.
I’d made him a promise you see, that we would all go to Scotland again together, to his house and say Hello to his Moo Cows. It was one of the last things that I said to him as he went off to sleep.
So we all set off, packed the 30 year old caravan as a trailer and loaded it to the gunnels. There is always too much to take on this journey, having been burgled, I am loathe to leave things behind and I do not pack light.
We set off at 10pm and arrived in Yorkshire at 2am, sleeping from 3am till 11am. Then I woke up to a lovely cheerful message from my friend wishing us a safe journey.
As we set off again in the sunshine, we hit Wetherby in a heatwave. So sun warmth and a bit of brunch. The West Cornwall Pasty Co, is an essential part of my journey and is significant in marking the start of the holiday for me. I don’t know exactly why, but on the occasions we have arrived there and they have been closed, it is a kind of nonentity as though something is missing.
Their meal deal marks the holiday spirit for me, it is a treat that I only have on this journey. No-where else. Strange but true.
I ate my lunch as my partner attempted to swap caravans with a Romanian man who was headed back to his home country with his one. Our journeys are never dull!
My partner was certainly sick and tired of ours by then, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the journey ahead. The vehicle struggled to pull the long caravan with it’s luggage uphill and was taking all his skills in the wind, to keep it steady.
At Wetherby we were just going to head off again, when a couple pulled in alongside us with a beautiful five month old Labrador puppy on board. We complimented them on their gorgeous pup and I asked if I could pet her. About half an hour later I still was and as the men talked I told the lady about our boy and that he used to wave at people and everybody loved him. We missed him so much. It was really hard.
The Puppy, called Bailey wiggled in for more kisses and cuddles and barked to tell me off when I stopped. She was lovely, the lady asked me if we would get another dog. Definitely and Soon, I said. We were just waiting for the right time and the right dog again. We climbed back in the car and headed off up the motorway in the sunshine.
Kato would have loved this journey, thoughts of “Are you OK Fluffy Ears?” rang through my head. I looked into the back of the car, our beloved boy replaced by luggage. It was too strange and brought tears to the eyes.
Dare I tell him that I had brought a lead, harness and collar with me, just in case?
Just in case there was a dog that was abandoned, roaming the streets and needing a loving home. Or a pup that caught the eye whilst we were away. How would he feel?
I also brought a spare blanket, but no toys or chews. I did not want to bring all the Kato things with us. It didn’t seem right, but would not leave without putting the blanket in the bag and telling him that “it was OK, he was coming too” as I packed. Kato always became sad until I said that, the arrival of travel bags disconcerted him and he needed to be reassured that we were all going together. Why he thought I could leave him, I don’t know. Since my partner returned to Scotland in an emergency when he was a pup, he’d always been nervous of the bags.
As we drove along, we talked as we always do. My partner decided to tell me that his doctor had warned him that of his health, further concerns and asked when? He told me when his mother had died. So that was 18 months ago and he regularly gets confused and forgetful, especially under stress. Timing is everything. But when you are the only one who can tow a 20 foot caravan on a 600 mile trip it can be alarming news! I am the navigator these days, he says he gets confused and doesn’t always see what he should or read the situation how he should. Was I worried, Yes and maybe that is what continues as I woke about 3.30am or maybe it’s some other reason. I’d better learn the stuff he can teach me, before it’s too late like learning to tow a caravan. Why do we take so much stuff on a trip, he asked. Well Darling, we don’t have a lock and leave, when we do we won’t have to take it and bring it all back.
I hope that he gets there, to the lock and leave one day. Is time running out? He seems to think so in some of his more thoughtful moments. So, even if we sold it all right now and moved to France would we cope?
Well, we’d have a pretty good try at it. We’d be learning new things together and without the back up of family or old friends I do not know how I’d cope with the challenges, but I guess we’d find out.
Meanwhile, this journey is very tiring for him. He is exhausted, mentally and physically drained and as we arrive for our second night at the hotel. It is one where they know us. We were last here as a family at New Year after a journey from hell back down from Aviemore in the Highlands. I was so proud of my beloved his driving skills got us through floods and horrendous situations, over mountain tracks and crumbling roads. It was a scary journey for us all and the dog had nightmares, he was frightened and so was I at times and yet we put our trust in him and he got us through it with our trailer making it to safety. It’s supposed to get easier not more difficult in time. We were so relieved to be safe that at New Year, we celebrated that we had made it, exhausted but safe with a tipple and that we were all alive and together, letting our friends and family know. It was all that mattered to us.
This time as we arrived, I told the night porter that we had lost our boy. She remembered him and had wondered where he was. I didn’t go into all the details, it was hard enough and I chose to tell her when my partner went to the car for something. He came back and tried to tell her and got upset.
Once in our room, he said to me, “This journey is so hard” Yes, I said “without him it feels strange”, Yes. I do not know what we will be like when we reach our house. The usual hotel room has something missing. He’s large and furry and usually bouncing around the room at this point, having had a huge drink, a big cuddle and is so pleased to be out of the car, delighting in the knowledge that tomorrow we will reach our destination. His House!
But this room is empty, the holdall is in the room with us, I could not leave it in the car another night. I could not sleep for worrying that someone might take him, it was one of the things that my partner had said to me when I said we had to bring him. So our boy is here with us. I did not get to kiss his casket, have our goodnights before we fell asleep. Yes I have things on my mind these early hours, it is worry that our belongings are safe in the caravan in the car park, but heartache and loss which keeps me awake tonight. My digestion is off track, I did not drink enough fluid on the trip, none of us do.
The Daily Post – Border